A Tauranga greengrocer has applauded the decision by major supermarkets to ditch plastic bags but says they are about 10 years late.

David Stewart, who owns The Fresh Market in Gate Pa, has been using biodegradable bags for more than a decade.

"They are slightly more expensive but they are biodegradable so ethically and morally, that is a far better choice for us to have, even if it's a couple of extra cents. Who really cares?"

This week Countdown announced that single-use plastic bags would be removed from its stores and online shopping by the end of next year. About 350 million plastic bags were set to be removed every year, as supermarkets SuperValue and FreshChoice also committed to drop single-use plastic bag.


In recent weeks, New World supermarkets announced they would let customers decide whether they should keep or remove their plastic bags.

Mr Stewart said the supermarkets were on to a good thing, but they did not need to ditch plastic bags altogether.

"I've been through the whole thing. There are options out there."

Mr Stewart said the store also offered paper bags and jute bags but most people did not want to spend extra on paper bags.

Countdown's managing director, Dave Chambers, said now was the right time to take the lead.

"We have been tracking customer sentiment for two years and our most recent research, concluded in August, indicates that 83 per cent of our customers support phasing out single-use plastic carrier bags," he said.

Mr Chambers said customers adapted quickly.

"We're confident Kiwis will get in behind this change across the country, and we're committed to making the move from check-out bags as simple for customers as we can."

Charging customers for plastic bags was considered, but rejected, Mr Chambers said.